Chicago Chefs for Choice

Bringing you the best in sustainable food and entertainment

Why Running is Good for You

Running is another one of my hobbies, it improves your health by making you happier. The release of endorphins is good for your health. Even on those days when it’s hard to make yourself leave the door you should still make yourself run. Though you should take proper precautions when running in the winter, extreme heat or in the dark. Have you ever heard someone say that running is a drug? That is because it is a drug. Running releases natural hormones into the body that regulate activity, sleep cycle and mood. You have a less chance of depression and other mental illnesses if you run.

Running makes you skinnier, it will regulate your body’s natural blood pressure level, and maintain homestatic pressure. You do not have to be sprinting, in fact ,experts say that doing 70% Vo2max will be enough to gain this benefit. Running is by far the best and most energy efficient mode of exercising as it burns more fat per minute than any other activity.

Running can make your knees stronger, as it increases your bone mass and makes you into superman. It will stem age related bone loss, and it is also very good for your knees. It will strengthen the small bones and ligaments around your kneecaps over time. When doctors look at runners they find that runners have a very low risk of arthritis.

Running and hiking will also improve your mental functions, and keep you sharp as you age. Even previous stroke patients can benefit, the more active an elderly person is, the more they will stay sharp as they get older. These active people have better memories, better language skills, have better thinking and judgement than when compared to their unfit peers. They also have a lower incidence of cancer.

A viable alternative that I also enjoy is swimming. Swimming can be less impact than running on the rest of your joints. If you don’t like pounding asphalt give swimming a try. It can burn up to 3 times as much calories as running, that’s why you get so hungry when you leave the pool. The combination of water pressure squeezing out the water in your muscles and the ultra liquid resistance will also leave you dehydrated so be sure to drink liquids after.

I just wish I had more time to visit the pool, but since I don’t my activity has become running instead.

My Digital Painting Addiction

One of my favorite things to do is draw, I started when I was a child and to be honest it was pretty bad. But then I remember the first time when I was praised for my art work and it was the best thing in the world.

I used to draw in traditional media only because that was pretty easy to get started in. You can buy the material anywhere and often you don’t need anything but a pencil and some paper. But as I got more into drawing, I realized that the cost of painting materials would be extremely expensive. Usually your first six cheap acrylics colors will be about $15 for one pack. After that the costs would mount up if you needed individual colors like burnt sienna or ultramarine blue. And believe me, you will.

So I decided to buy a graphics tablet with photoshop CS4 and it has been the best decision I ever made. Using a digital platform means that you can make a painting in oil, acrylic, watercolor or any other style you like. You can do gradients and cel shading that would be very difficult and time consuming to do with regular paint.

Right now I am drawing with an intuos 4 but I wish I had a better electronic drawing pad.

The intuos is nice because it has 2048 levels of control which give you almost as many levels as your hand is capable of. However, it does take getting used to. Both photoshop and the tablet surface itself was a learning challenge for me. The surface is a but slicker than paper which makes your pen tip slip slightly and your hand must learn which pressures correspond to which line. The absence of tilt control was a bit hard to accept, as a lot of control rests on rotating the pencil or gaining momentum through taking advantage of the pencil shape. Your stylus will always be the same shape and you cannot count on this to help you draw.

The disconnect might be solved if I had a Cintiq, a very expensive model that allows you to draw directly on the screen itself.

Replacing Grain Fed with Free Range Pastured Chicken Meat

Like beef, chicken is commonly pumped full of hormones like estrogen to enhance the size of the breast meat.

so what should you do? First check out this primer on Eating Wild, where Jo Robinson will tell you all about the health benefits of eating more wild meats.

Even though these animals are domesticated and cultivated, the amount of omega-3s, which are very important to humans outweigh the omega-6s by a lot. The prevalence of omega-6 in our grain-based food today is what causes all the diseases of civilization: acne, cancer, mental illness.

By eating pastured chicken and cage free chicken eggs, you are helping yourself by ingesting these meats from a stress free animal. And you are saving countless animals from the brutality of cage life.

Let us talk about what kind of things are fed to chickens:

In the upper midwest it is common to feed a mash to animals consisting of foods that are to be thrown away.
Things like candy (with the wrappers on), bakery waste (stale bread, pastry products with wrappers), potato waste and grocery waste are fed to chickens, pasta and other starches are common too.

In contrast,

Herman Becks’ process for producing free range chickens is most popular today with home farmers and small scale free range chicken farms. It allows them to practice their natural behavior by allowing them more space. Most people don’t know this but chickens have a sophisticated social order. This is where the etymology of pecking order comes from.

This additional space allows them to move about, picking the best food as only nature know how and also allows them to practice natural behavior. Chickens that are kept too close together will fight, sometimes to the death and trampling are common as with any animal in close quarters. The term free range refers to its forage, while cows have a long forage called a pasture, chickens are a small animal and only have a range of a few inches.

This method is quite sustainable and will improve the farmer’s soil from chicken droppings. Combined with fresh air and exercise, free range chicken meat and eggs with often show different physical characteristics as well as chemical differences.

They will show in tests that omega-3s are more prevalent in natural free range products. The eggs will be a golden color yolk and the meat will taste different.

Chickens can also be kept as pets, though they need specialized care and roaming room similar to any exotic bird. Chickens will need a coop, preferably outside as they do not wait to defecate. They need a heating element which will keep them warm from drafts and a guard animal like a cattle dog to keep the chickens from becoming trapped with a natural predator.

Show chickens are also available, with some cocks reaching very large sizes. However, the viability of these show chickens as free range meat animals have not been determined. These animals expend a lot of energy growing their show feathers and maintaining their plumage, and therefore would not be a good choice.

Benefits of Grassfed Beef

Why is grassfed better?

You’ll want to check out this primer by Mark’s Daily Apple where he talks about the living condition and nutrition required for a large animal like a cow.

You see, cows are ruminants, meaning that they re-chew their food by regurgitating it from one of their four stomach. These animals have high energy requirements and complex social lives that suffer when you put them in a big lot plant.

These cows are stressed and depressed, in addition to drugged, making their meat toxic for human consumption.

Meanwhile, grassfed beef is leaner and more full of good fats because the animal is processing a diet it has evolved to eat. No cow should have to eat corn. But farmers prefer it because of it’s rich carbohydrate load, one which can even be refined into ethanol.